WBEZ | gun control http://www.wbez.org/tags/gun-control Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Morning Shift: One year after Sandy Hook, what's changed? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-12-13/morning-shift-one-year-after-sandy-hook-whats-changed <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Protest and Newtown Flickr Elvert Barnes.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Saturday marks the one year anniversary of the Sandy Hook school shooting. In the wake of this tragic event, how has the reality of gun violence and gun control legislation changed? We check in with experts at the state and national levels.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-one-year-after-sandy-hook-what-has-b/embed?header=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-one-year-after-sandy-hook-what-has-b.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-one-year-after-sandy-hook-what-has-b" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: One year after Sandy Hook, what's changed?" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Fri, 13 Dec 2013 08:33:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-12-13/morning-shift-one-year-after-sandy-hook-whats-changed Law proposes ban on gun magazines holding more than 10 rounds http://www.wbez.org/news/law-proposes-ban-gun-magazines-holding-more-10-rounds-107265 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/newtown.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A panel of Illinois State Senators is scheduled to hear from some parents whose children died in December&rsquo;s mass shooting in Newtown, CT. The parents are asking lawmakers to approve a bill banning gun ammunition magazines from holding more than 10 rounds.</p><p>The parents spoke emotionally with reporters in Chicago on Sunday. Nicole Hockley lost her son Dylan, 6, in the shooting.</p><p>&ldquo;If the shooter&rsquo;s magazines had held 10 rounds instead of 30, forcing him to reload many more times, what additional opportunities would have been available for someone to disarm him, as we&rsquo;ve seen in other tragedies?&rdquo; Hockley asked.</p><p>The legislation would allow prosecutors to charge with a felony anyone making, selling or possessing magazines with more than 10 rounds. Those found with a magazine containing more than 17 rounds would face even harsher prosecution.</p><p>Meantime, Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat, acknowledged the struggles his chamber has seen this legislative session agreeing on gun-related laws. A vote on proposed concealed carry legislation had been postponed because of a lack of agreement. Cullerton said Sunday a vote on limiting the size of magazines, like concealed carry, could come down to one or two state senators.</p><p>&ldquo;I want to see these three parents come down to Springfield, Illinois and I want them to make some of the senators very uncomfortable,&rdquo; Cullerton said.</p><p>In January, Illinois state lawmakers tried to pass legislation limiting the size of gun magazines, but it failed to pass the full legislature. It was one of the first attempts to pass gun control legislation in the country after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.</p><p>Gov. Pat Quinn has supported calls to limit the size of magazines along with banning so-called assault weapons. On Sunday, Quinn said he&rsquo;d be focusing on the magazines aspect of gun control legislation this week.</p><p>The House of Representatives also has yet to approve concealed carry legislation, something a federal court mandated lawmakers approve before June 9.</p><p><em>Tony Arnold covers state politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="http://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" target="_blank">@tonyjarnold</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Mon, 20 May 2013 08:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/law-proposes-ban-gun-magazines-holding-more-10-rounds-107265 Quinn pushes gun control at Chicago churches http://www.wbez.org/news/quinn-pushes-gun-control-chicago-churches-106542 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/quinn sabina.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is taking his call for new state gun regulations to the church pulpit. He&rsquo;s been reaching out to church-goers about his positions on increased gun control measures currently being debated by the state General Assembly.</p><p>At St. Sabina&rsquo;s on the city&rsquo;s South Side Sunday, Quinn invoked the Bible in talking about proposals like expanding background checks, banning certain guns and reporting lost or stolen weapons.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re not going to stand by and let children and others be killed. No no no. We&rsquo;re going to listen to what Paul said: Love is patient. Love is kind. Love never fails,&rdquo; Quinn told the congregation.</p><p>Quinn also visited two other churches on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side almost a month ago to push for gun control legislation.</p><p>The pastor at St. Sabina&rsquo;s, Father Michael Pfleger, said he&rsquo;s taking a group to Springfield this week to lobby for stricter gun regulations.</p><p>&ldquo;If Connecticut can respond out of what happened in New Town, Illinois, you ought to respond to what&rsquo;s going on in Chicago on the South Side and the West Side,&rdquo; Pfleger said after Quinn spoke. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s time to step up.&rdquo;</p><p>Pfleger could have a tough sell to some lawmakers from outside Chicago who have been resistant to bans on so-called assault weapons.</p><p>Much of the debate in Springfield has focused on allowing concealed carry after a federal court ruled Illinois&rsquo; ban on carrying concealed weapons was unconstitutional. Legislators have until June to approve a concealed carry measure.</p></p> Mon, 08 Apr 2013 14:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/quinn-pushes-gun-control-chicago-churches-106542 Cook County begins $25 gun tax, despite lawsuit http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-begins-25-gun-tax-despite-lawsuit-106409 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/preck1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Purchasing a gun in Cook County will be a little more expensive starting Monday, as a controversial $25 tax has now officially kicked in.</p><p dir="ltr">County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said the measure, passed last fall, would deter straw purchasers and bring in needed revenue for the healthcare system.</p><div>&quot;I know this tax will not unilaterally solve the violence issue that we face in Chicago and Cook County but it&rsquo;s a piece of the puzzle,&quot; Preckwinkle said.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Preckwinkle announced the new tax at St. Pius V Church in Pilsen, where she was surrounded by members of the clergy, victims of gun violence, and other county officials. Yolan Henry was one of those victims: She told the story of her 24-year-old daughter and 10-month-old granddaughter, who were shot to death inside their home in 2009.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Henry said even if the gun tax saves one person&#39;s life, it&#39;s worth it.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&quot;Statistics show how the taxes may not affect the stopping of gun violence,&quot; Henry said. &quot;But what statistics do not show are the many mothers, fathers, sisters, family members and friends that are left to grieve and mourn because of the gun killings.&quot;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The county estimates the tax will bring in about $600,000 this year&nbsp;&mdash; a small amount in comparison to the billions of dollars it takes to run the county, but President Preckwinkle says it will help fund the health system. The tax only applies to areas in the county outside of Chicago, as city law prohibits the sale of firearms.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Meanwhile a group of local gun shop owners have filed a lawsuit against the tax, saying it violates their right to bear arms. They also tried to get a temporary restraining order to stop the tax, but a circuit court judge denied that motion.&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 01 Apr 2013 12:14:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cook-county-begins-25-gun-tax-despite-lawsuit-106409 Biden: Illinois election sends message on guns http://www.wbez.org/news/biden-illinois-election-sends-message-guns-105784 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS7067_AP295119131125-scr(1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>WASHINGTON &mdash; Vice President Joe Biden argued Wednesday that the primary election victory of a gun control advocate to represent Illinois in Congress sends a message that voters won&#39;t stand for inaction in response to shooting violence after the Connecticut school shooting.</p><p>Robin Kelly was elected Tuesday as the Democratic nominee in a Chicago-area district to replace former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., forced out in an ethics scandal, after running on gun control. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg&#39;s political fund poured $2 million into television ads against an opponent who had been highly rated by the National Rifle Association.</p><p>&quot;For the first time since Newtown, voters sent a clear unequivocal signal,&quot; Biden told state attorneys general gathered at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington.</p><p>&quot;The voters sent a message last night, not just to the NRA but to the politicians all around the country by electing Robin Kelly, who stood up, who stood strong for gun safety totally consistent with our Second Amendment rights,&quot; Biden said. &quot;The message is there will be a moral price as well as a political price to be paid for inaction. This is not 1994. People know too much.&quot;</p><p>In 1994, Congress passed an assault weapons ban and some lawmakers who supported it paid an electoral price by being voted out of office. But Biden argued the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 students and six workers has changed the gun debate in a way he&#39;s never seen.</p><p>&quot;This senseless act not only shocked the conscience of the American people, but I believe it has changed and galvanized the attitude of the American people demanding concrete action. I&#39;ve been doing this for a long time. The public mood has changed,&quot; Biden said, his voice rising to a yell. &quot;The excuse that it&#39;s too politically risky to act is no longer acceptable. We cannot remain silent. We have to become the voices of those 20 beautiful children.&quot;</p><p>Biden has been the White House&#39;s leader on pushing for gun control legislation, including a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and a push for universal background checks. The vice president planned to meet later in the day with Bloomberg at the White House.</p></p> Wed, 27 Feb 2013 11:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/biden-illinois-election-sends-message-guns-105784 Northwest Indiana county rejects tightening gun show rules http://www.wbez.org/news/northwest-indiana-county-rejects-tightening-gun-show-rules-105661 <p><p>CROWN POINT, Ind. &mdash; Commissioners in a northwest Indiana county that abuts Illinois have rejected tightening up regulations for gun shows at the county&#39;s fairgrounds.</p><p>Law enforcement officials from the two states say Lake County&#39;s shows are a potential source of weapons flowing into Chicago.</p><p>But Commissioner Mike Repay said Wednesday the county is following the law and anyone upset with that should work to get the laws changed.</p><p>The Times of Munster <a href="http://bit.ly/Y8SsKE">reports</a> Sheriff John Buncich told the county commissioners Wednesday there&#39;s a need for tighter gun show vendor controls.</p><p>Buncich said after a guns summit last week in Gary attended by about 80 representatives from a dozen local, state and federal agencies in the two states that authorities will more closely review the sponsors of guns shows.</p></p> Thu, 21 Feb 2013 12:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/northwest-indiana-county-rejects-tightening-gun-show-rules-105661 Guns and duty, once the combat tour ends http://www.wbez.org/news/guns-and-duty-once-combat-tour-ends-105469 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P1080059.JPG" style="height: 436px; width: 620px;" title="Former U.S. Marine Justin Wigg, 28, of Schaumburg pulls in a paper target to see how he did.(Alex Keefe/WBEZ)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F78845520&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Justin Wigg says it took about three years of being out of the United States Marine Corps before he stopped having the dream.</p><p>&ldquo;You could ask just about any military vet if they&rsquo;ve ever had &lsquo;that dream,&rsquo; and they&rsquo;ll know what you&rsquo;re talking about,&rdquo; Wigg, 28, explained one recent weeknight at his home in Schaumburg, Ill. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s that dream where you wake up in the middle of the night and you are like, &lsquo;Oh s---, I don&rsquo;t know where my rifle is.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>But gone are the days when Wigg&rsquo;s dreams are haunted by barking Marine Corps drill instructors, dressing him down for not having his rifle ready at all hours of the day. Now he&rsquo;s got a corporate job, a suburban townhouse and a rambunctious brindle greyhound, named Sheriff.</p><p>And he still has a gun, albeit just one: A SIG Sauer P226 .40 cal. pistol he stows in a blue plastic case, tucked into his bedroom wardrobe &ndash; well out of arm&rsquo;s reach.</p><p>Wigg is one of several people WBEZ is profiling as part of the series, &ldquo;Our Guns.&rdquo; It aims to document the different relationships local gun owners have with their firearms, as people across the country debate gun rights and gun control in the aftermath of mass shootings in Newtown, Conn. and daily gun violence here in Chicago.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Few have a closer relationship to their guns than soldiers in combat, but that can change as they ease back into civilian life.</div><p>After serving two tours in Iraq, Wigg said not carrying a gun when he first left the Marine Corps made him feel kind of naked. (Think: forgetting your cell phone at home, or driving without a seatbelt.)<br />His itch to carry a gun was stifled, he said, by the fact that Illinois is the only state in the U.S. that does not allow people to carry concealed weapons. A lot of his buddies from other states started carrying when they got out of the service, Wigg said.</p><p>&ldquo;And part of it probably is because of that - that dream feeling,&rdquo; he said, adding his friends now think: &ldquo;&rsquo;I&rsquo;ve had a gun stuck to my hip for the last four years, and why - why not just go buy a pistol and keep myself calm with that sense of safety?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/KEEFE%20GUNS%20military%209.jpg" style="float: right; height: 524px; width: 350px;" title="Wigg displays a bandaged finger, after being shot by friendly fire while serving in Iraq. (Courtesy image)" />I should disclose that I actually went to middle school with Justin Wigg, though we were never close. We hadn&rsquo;t talked in about 15 years, until we reconnected on Facebook when he learned I was doing this story.</div><p>The town in which we were raised &ndash; northwest suburban Roselle, Ill. &ndash; is the kind of place where most of the kids I knew had never even fired a gun. Wigg says his first time wasn&rsquo;t until basic training.</p><h2><strong>&lsquo;Luckiest person in Iraq&rsquo;</strong></h2><p>When I visit his home, Wigg pops in a DVD to show me &ndash; a kind of video scrapbook of his time in the Marines, set to rock music and rap.</p><p>In one scene, camouflaged Marines slide down ropes trailing from a low-flying helicopter. In another, guys in full gear are shooting at targets shaped roughly like human silhouettes. A big part of all this training &ndash; the long hours at the shooting range &ndash; is safety.</p><p>Wigg points to a scar on his right middle finger. This is where a bullet went clean through his flesh while on patrol one day in Iraq, without breaking a bone.</p><p>The shot was accidental, fired from the rifle of a fellow Marine who wasn&rsquo;t following safety protocol.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s extremely amazing,&rdquo; Wigg said, admiring that his finger still functions normally. &ldquo;The doctor said that I was the luckiest person in Iraq that day that I still had my finger attached.&rdquo;</p><h2><strong>Training</strong></h2><div class="image-insert-image ">The story of this injury reminds me that Wigg&rsquo;s experience with guns is unique, something most Americans will never experience.</div><p>He carried a loaded gun as part of his job, for months on end, to guard against the very real danger that somebody would try to kill him.</p><p>He was trained until his gun became an extension of his body, trained until the training itself crept into his dreams. And he was trained to do what many hunters and sportsmen are trained not to do: Shoot other people.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P1080113.JPG" style="float: left; height: 246px; width: 350px;" title="Wigg shows off a tight cluster of of shots he made on the lower part of the target. He used a semi-automatic civilian version of the rifle he used in the military. The reporter's shots are scattered, less accurately, along the top of the target. (Alex Keefe/WBEZ)" />&ldquo;I&rsquo;d say that, you know, once you get out past that 50-yard distance, you know, like, you can&rsquo;t see faces and you can&rsquo;t - you know, it - it makes it a little easier to - to not have that emotional connection,&rdquo; Wigg said, when I ask him about this.</p><p>This answer is not &ldquo;P.C,&rdquo; he laments. But that lack of emotion, he called it &quot;dehumanizing,&quot; was part of his training, too.</p><p>Now that he&rsquo;s out of the Marine Corps, he says he&rsquo;s able to think of his enemies differently.</p><p>&ldquo;I know that they all have the same feelings and families and things like that,&rdquo; Wigg said. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s just - that&rsquo;s part of war and that&rsquo;s the stuff that you - you don&rsquo;t have time to think about at the time, and you spend the rest of your life dealing with.&rdquo;</p><h2><strong>&lsquo;When the good guys are armed&rsquo;</strong></h2><p>On a recent weeknight, I met Wigg at an indoor range in Lombard, Ill.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">The ground inside the shooting range is strewn with spent brass shell casings. The air is pungent with the smell of gunfire, and so thick you can taste it &ndash; sweet, in the back of your throat.</div><p>&ldquo;[With] good ammo, you don&rsquo;t get the taste, you just get that good, nostalgic smell that you think of,&rdquo; he shouted over the sound of gunfire, in between turns shooting at the paper target downrange.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/P1080104.JPG" style="height: 384px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Equipment rests on the ground in between shooting sets. (Alex Keefe/WBEZ)" />Wigg says he is still nostalgic about those long hours at the military range, shooting off thousands of rounds. But now, he shoots with his friends just a couple of times a month, mostly for the fun of it.</p><p>He and a buddy, another ex-Marine,- argue over who shot which holes through a black, silhouette-shaped paper target.</p><p>&ldquo;After a stressful day, you know, this is a really good way to just blow off some steam,&rdquo; Wigg explained. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s good guy time to just shoot the s---, make fun of each other.&rdquo;</p><p>But for Wigg, this is more than just a night with the guys. He believes carrying a concealed weapon is a right, that someday he hopes to exercise in Illinois. His military training could be an asset if he were ever witness to a crime, and needed to act, he said.</p><p>&ldquo;Your chances are better when the good guys are armed than when it&rsquo;s just bad guys with guns,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Wigg says that familiar refrain &ndash; &quot;only a good guy with a gun, can stop a bad guy with a gun&quot; &ndash; appeals to his sense of duty, even if he no longer wears a uniform.</p></p> Mon, 11 Feb 2013 15:51:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/guns-and-duty-once-combat-tour-ends-105469 Senators seek deal on gun-sale background checks http://www.wbez.org/news/senators-seek-deal-gun-sale-background-checks-105428 <p><p>WASHINGTON &mdash; A cornerstone of President Barack Obama&#39;s drive to check gun violence is gathering bipartisan steam as four senators, including two of the National Rifle Association&#39;s congressional champions, privately seek compromise on requiring far more firearms purchasers to undergo background checks.</p><p>The talks are being held even as Obama&#39;s call to ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, the two other major pillars of his plan, are hitting rough waters on Capitol Hill. An agreement among the four senators to expand background checks would add significant impetus to that high-profile proposal by getting the endorsement of a group that ranges from one of the Senate&#39;s most liberal Democrats to one of its most conservative Republicans.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;ll get something, I hope. I&#39;m praying for it,&quot; said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., one of the participants.</p><p>Manchin, a moderate Democrat, is an NRA member who aired a 2010 campaign ad in which he literally shot a hole through Democratic environmental legislation that he pledged to oppose.</p><p>Also involved is Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., another NRA member with a strong conservative record but occasional maverick impulses; No. 3 Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer of New York, a liberal; and moderate GOP Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois.</p><p>Background checks are required only for sales by the nation&#39;s 55,000 federally licensed gun dealers, but not for private purchases like those at gun shows, online or in person. There are few indisputable, up-to-date statistics on how many guns change hands without background checks, but a respected study using 1990s data estimated that 30 percent to 40 percent of gun transactions fit into that category.</p><p>The senators&#39; talks have included discussions about how to encourage states to make more mental health data available to the federal system for checking gun buyers&#39; records, according to people who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to describe the private negotiations. They are also considering potential exemptions to expanded background check requirements, including transactions involving relatives or people with licenses to carry concealed weapons</p><p>People involved in the talks would share little about their substance. In one of the few public remarks about the talks by participants, Schumer said last week that the talks have been productive and said the package they were seeking &quot;will not limit your ability to borrow your Uncle Willie&#39;s hunting rifle or share a gun with your friend at a shooting range.&quot;</p><p>Congress has been focusing on guns since the December massacre of 20 first-graders and six adults at a school in Newtown, Conn. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., wants his panel to approve gun control legislation in the next few weeks and has voiced strong support for universal background checks for firearms purchases.</p><p>While an expansion of background checks is expected to be a key part of any gun control bill Leahy produces, a version of that provision with bipartisan support could give the entire package a boost.</p><p>It is likely that any gun-control bill will need 60 votes to pass the 100-member Senate. Democrats have 55 votes, including two Democratic-leaning independents.</p><p>Leaders of the GOP-run House are planning to see what, if anything, the Senate passes before moving on gun legislation. Strategists believe that a measure that passes the Senate with clear bipartisan support could pressure the House to act.</p><p>The political impact that the four senators could have by reaching agreement stems largely from who they are.</p><p>If Coburn embraces an agreement, that could help win over other conservative Republicans at a time when the GOP is responding to its White House and congressional election losses of last November by trying to broaden its national appeal.</p><p>In an Associated Press-GfK Poll last month, requiring more background checks got overwhelming public support, compared to just over half who backed bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.</p><p>&quot;The whole goal is to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill and criminals,&quot; Coburn said in a brief interview.</p><p>Manchin&#39;s support could make it easier to win backing from other Democratic senators from GOP-leaning states, many of whom face re-election next year and who have been leery of embracing Obama&#39;s proposals.</p><p>&quot;If the language is meaningful, it would be obviously a huge step,&quot; said Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, which represents child welfare, religious and other groups favoring gun curbs. &quot;To have someone like Coburn, who&#39;s voted consistently with the gun lobby, to come out and endorse a meaningful background check would be very helpful.&quot;</p><p>Schumer and Kirk each have &quot;F&#39;&#39; scores from the NRA for their voting records in Congress, while Coburn and Manchin have &quot;A&#39;&#39; ratings.</p><p>Though widened background checks is given the strongest chance for enactment of Obama&#39;s major proposals, it is opposed by the NRA and many congressional Republicans, who consider it intrusive and unworkable for a system they say already has flaws.</p><p>&quot;My problem with background checks is you&#39;re never going to get criminals to go through background checks,&quot; Wayne LaPierre, NRA executive vice president, told the Senate Judiciary Committee at its gun control hearing last week.</p><p>&quot;That&#39;s the way reductions in liberty occur, when you start saying people have to sign up for something and they have a database where they know exactly who&#39;s who,&quot; Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said in an interview.</p><p>Gun control supporters note that federal laws specifically forbid the national background check system from being used as a registry of gun owners. Much of the information the system collects must be destroyed within a day.</p><p>NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam declined to comment on the senators&#39; discussions.</p><p>According to Justice Department estimates, the federal and state governments ran 108 million background checks of firearms sales between 1994 when the requirement became law and 2009. Of those, 1.9 million &mdash; almost 2 percent &mdash; were denied, usually because would-be purchasers had criminal records.</p><p>People legally judged to be &quot;mentally defective&quot; are among those blocked by federal law from firearms purchases. States are supposed to make mental health records available to the federal background check system and receive more generous Justice Department grants if they do, but many provide little or no such data because of privacy concerns or antiquated record-keeping systems.</p><p>People following the discussions say the talks have touched on:</p><p>&mdash;The types of family relatives who would be allowed to give guns to each other without a background check.</p><p>&mdash;Possibly exempting sales in remote areas.</p><p>&mdash;Whether to help some veterans who sought treatment for traumatic stress disorder &mdash; now often barred from getting firearms &mdash; become eligible to do so.</p></p> Fri, 08 Feb 2013 09:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/senators-seek-deal-gun-sale-background-checks-105428 Chicago takes leading role in national gun debate http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-takes-leading-role-national-gun-debate-105305 <p><p>They are counting the dead from gunfire again in Chicago, a city awash in weapons despite having one of the strictest gun-control ordinances in the nation.</p><p>After a year in which <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-police-confirm-500-murders-2012-104615" target="_blank">Chicago&#39;s death toll surpassed 500</a>, the bloodshed has continued in 2013 at a rate of more than one killing a day. It was the city&#39;s deadliest January in more than a decade.</p><p>Now with this week&#39;s death of a 15-year-old drum majorette who had just returned from performing at President Barack Obama&#39;s inauguration, the mounting losses have put Obama&#39;s hometown at the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-officials-step-fight-against-gun-violence-105242">center of the intensifying national debate over guns</a>.</p><p>The slayings are no longer dismissed as an only-in-Chicago story about violent street gangs. They are almost a Sandy Hook Elementary School attack unfolding in slow motion: an honor student gunned down at a high school basketball game, two men in their 40s killed outside a hamburger stand, a woman whose bullet-riddled body was <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/woman-fatally-shot-van-chicago-roadway-105273" target="_blank">found early Friday</a> in a van on the world-famous Lake Shore Drive.</p><p>Both gun-rights and gun-control advocates are seizing on the city&#39;s woes &mdash; one side to push for greater access to guns for self-defense, the other to seek greater restrictions on gun sales.</p><p>&quot;You&#39;ve got these two philosophies that are butting heads, and they&#39;re butting heads in the biggest city in the middle of the United States,&quot; said David Workman, of the Bellevue, Wa.-based Second Amendment Foundation. &quot;And both sides are holding up Chicago as a punching bag.&quot;</p><p>Obama has made sure to mention Chicago as he laments last year&#39;s shooting rampages in a Colorado movie theater and Newtown, Conn., and again when he offered condolences to the family of Hadiya Pendleton, the promising teen who was shot to death Tuesday as she talked with friends <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-01/kenwood-blues-part-ii-105255">after school in a park</a> about a mile from Obama&#39;s Chicago home.</p><p>&quot;I mean what is absolutely true is that, if you are just creating a bunch of pockets of gun laws without having sort of, a unified, integrated system &mdash; for example, of background checks &mdash; then ... it&#39;s going to be a lot harder for an individual community, a single community, to protect itself from this kind of gun violence,&quot; the president said this week in an interview with Telemundo.</p><p>His political opponents are making the most of the body count, too.</p><p>Newt Gingrich says he&#39;s trying to persuade House Republicans to hold hearings on Chicago&#39;s shootings. During an interview on CBS News, Gingrich called the city &quot;the murder capital of the United States,&quot; adding, &quot;If gun control works, Chicago ought to be safe.&quot;</p><p>Critics of gun control say Chicago&#39;s spike in homicides offers clear evidence that sharply restricting weapons endangers the public. The city banned handguns until a 2010 Supreme Court ruling threw out the ban. Chicago then adopted a strict gun ordinance that requires gun owners to be fingerprinted, undergo a background check, pass a training class and pay fees that can be higher than the price of the weapons.</p><p>&quot;If you restrict firearms, only criminals have firearms,&quot; said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. &quot;In the city of Chicago, the citizens are simply looked at as easy prey because it is so difficult to have a firearm at home or your business for self-defense.&quot;</p><p>From the other side comes another familiar argument &mdash; that Chicago illustrates the need for tougher restrictions because existing laws in the city and beyond its borders in the suburbs or in Indiana have made it too easy for criminals to get guns and too difficult to lock them up when they are caught.</p><p>Gingrich &quot;has been in Chicago, and he can see we don&#39;t have a Berlin-type wall with checkpoints around it,&quot; said Rep. Mike Quigley, a Chicago Democrat. &quot;You can go to any gun show in Indiana ... and get a gun without a background check.&quot;</p><p>Statistics show that more than half of the guns seized by Chicago police in the last 12 years came from other states.</p><p>And a University of Chicago study found that more than 1,300 guns confiscated by police since 2008 were purchased at a single store just outside city limits. More than 270 were used in crimes.</p><p>Chicago leaders have embraced the city&#39;s role in the debate.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-mayor-rahm-emanuel-chokes-he-talks-about-shooting-death-15-year-old-chicago-girl-105225">Mayor Rahm Emanuel</a> is proposing a law to increase jail time for anyone who fails to report guns that have been lost, stolen or sold. At the U.S. Conference of Mayors, he urged fellow leaders to follow his example and sever financial ties with gun manufacturers that oppose gun-reform legislation.</p><p>His police superintendent, Garry McCarthy, has repeatedly compared the laws in Chicago and New York, where he spent the bulk of his career on the city&#39;s police force.</p><p>&quot;When people get caught with guns in New York, they go to jail,&quot; McCarthy said, pointing to the case of Plaxico Burress, the NFL football player who only had to shoot himself accidentally in the leg to land in prison for 20 months.</p><p>Although Chicago has many gun laws on the books, the maximum penalties are typically no more than six months in jail, &quot;which is something that a criminal laughs at,&quot; McCarthy said.</p><p>In 2012, Chicago police seized more than 7,400 guns &mdash; about three times more than officers in New York. In the first three-plus weeks of this year, police seized 450 guns, compared with 99 in New York. McCarthy says that disparity helps explain why Chicago&#39;s homicide rate rose last year while New York&#39;s fell to a historic low.</p><p>For <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/kenwood-residents-react-policing-policies-105267">residents of some troubled neighborhoods</a>, the abundance of weapons helps explain all the gunshots they hear.</p><p>&quot;People are afraid to go out, sit on their porches,&quot; said Nathaniel Pendleton, the grand uncle of Hadiya Pendleton. &quot;It&#39;s horrific. Every family is suffering.&quot;</p><p>Other Illinois lawmakers are making <a href="http://www.wbez.org/dart-seize-some-felons-guns-without-warrant-105259">proposals</a> of their own. Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin wants to crack down on &quot;straw purchasing&quot; by creating federal penalties for anyone who buys guns for criminals who are prohibited from doing so.</p><p>Illinois&#39; other senator, Republican Mark Kirk, who recently returned to Congress after a stroke, joined Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York to introduce legislation that would for the first time make gun trafficking a federal crime.</p><p>It was Pendleton&#39;s death that drew Chicago fully into the debate in a way that last year&#39;s 506 gun slayings and the 43 so far this year did not.</p><p>When 20 first-graders and six teachers were killed in Connecticut, the massacre &quot;woke up the soccer mom,&quot; said the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a Catholic priest and a prominent community activist on the city&#39;s South Side. &quot;The soccer mom doesn&#39;t identify with the kids that got killed this weekend in Chicago.&quot;</p><p>But Pfleger said the slaying of a popular student with dreams of becoming a doctor or lawyer cast Chicago&#39;s violence in a different light.</p><p>&quot;This was a young girl,&quot; he said. &quot;And I talk to people in the suburbs and they&#39;re devastated by this.&quot;</p></p> Fri, 01 Feb 2013 14:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-takes-leading-role-national-gun-debate-105305 2-1-1982: Chicago suburb outlaws guns! http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-01/2-1-1982-chicago-suburb-outlaws-guns-105086 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2-1--street.JPG" title="'First in service, First in safety.' [Morton Grove motto]" /></p><p>Thirty-one years ago today, the eyes of the country were on Morton Grove, Ill. The quiet northern suburb had enacted the most restrictive handgun law in America. This was the first day under the new law. &nbsp;</p><p>The story had begun in 1980, when someone applied for a license to open a gun store in the village. The matter went to the Board of Trustees. In June 1981 the Board passed an ordinance banning gun sales. While they were at it, they also approved a measure outlawing the possession of handguns.</p><div class="image-insert-image ">Of course, the U.S. Constitution said that &ldquo;the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.&rdquo; The Board knew that the law would be challenged. The Morton Grove police were instructed to hold any surrendered guns for five years, in case the law was overturned.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The lawsuits came. The original enforcement date&ndash;September 6, 1981&ndash;was postponed. In December the U.S. District Court upheld the Morton Grove ban. The Board then announced that the law would go into effect on February 1, 1982.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">On the morning of the big day, reporters, photographers, and TV news crews staked out the Village Hall police station. At 8:15 a resident came in with three rusty handguns in a shopping bag. He&rsquo;d wanted to get rid of the guns for a long time, but didn&rsquo;t know how to go about it.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">A few minutes later, a second man arrived. He was surrendering a .22-caliber pistol. &ldquo;This would be your Saturday night special,&rdquo; an official helpfully told the reporters.</div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2-1--police station.JPG" title="Morton Grove's gun depository" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image ">The day went on. The news people waited. In the middle of the afternoon, a third man appeared. He dropped off a small-caliber pistol and some ammo.&nbsp;</div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">One of the reporters asked the deputy police chief how future violations would be treated. &ldquo;We would hand out an ordinance ticket, just like a parking violation,&rdquo; the chief said. The weapon would also be confiscated.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The Village Hall closed at 5 p.m. A total of five guns had been collected.&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">The&nbsp;mayor of Morton Grove had been following the news coverage on TV. He said he wasn&rsquo;t disappointed by the small number of guns. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a drop in the bucket,&rdquo; he conceded. &ldquo;[But] who the heck can tell how many guns there are?&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Because of later court decisions, Morton Grove repealed much of its handgun ban in 2008.</div></p> Fri, 01 Feb 2013 05:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/john-r-schmidt/2013-01/2-1-1982-chicago-suburb-outlaws-guns-105086